Monday, June 20, 2011

Alice : Madness Returns - PS3

This game is getting my inner madness riled up but the angry madness. I am madder at this game right now then I remember ever being mad at a game. Did you get this? I'm mad.

I am a fan of the original game and of Lewis Carroll's stories featuring the young heroine. Usually, I will not like games or stories that take innocent childhood themes and make them horrible. But the original game fit for me. It was a good representation of her madness from the event that transpired before the game opened.

So, I had been looking forward to this game ever since I heard they were making this sequel. I got it on release day and happily got home to drown myself in bloody craziness.

I'll talk about what I like first and don't like, and get to the maddening part later.

The game looks fine (apart from some visual glitches and occasional muggy textures). Not fantastic, but serviceable. It's a platformer true and true. The game levels barely make any structural sense. This brings to mind the horrible level design of the 2008 Prince of Persia game. But here, it doesn't completely bother me because it's basically a Super Mario Game, with a pretty facade. And it's being played in the fragmented mind of Alice, pieces of non-sense floating around. That's fine, it's what I was expecting even if it's a little bit disappointing.

One of the major problem is that each level (chapters) is extremely long. There are only five or six through the game, so while getting into a new chapter is fresh, it becomes repetitious very fast. And you stay in it for hours and hours. Each land has some specific enemies related to it, but there are also Ruins, creatures of goo and doll parts that keep popping repeatedly all the way through the game. And the level design feels lazy sometimes. The original played a lot with dimensions, shifting views and visual trickeries. This one is straight-forward platforms, levels and switches in crazy scenery.

I found myself actually becoming more interested in the short real-world London segments in-between the levels where you explore a dreary Victorian  London, get more insight in Alice's world and story. The way the sets are lit and the character designs make it look like stop-motion bits, reminiscent of Tim Burton's work. But they are sparse, gradually shorter and I wish they could be played more. Actually, playing these make me almost wish the entire game was like this. But I have an obsession with Victorian London, so it's probably just me.

The story is great, even though it uses the common (and unforgivable)  practice of combining the Queen of Hearts and the Red Queen into one character which bugs me to no end. They are two separate characters from two different stories. One is a playing card, the other is a chess piece. Mixing the two motifs is NOT COOL! (I'm pointing at you again, but angrily, Tim Burton!!) But anyway, this is not the issue here. :P

What makes me incessantly mad is the boss fights. There are no real bosses. All they do is take some of the tough enemies and throw them at you in enclosed areas where you have to dispatch them all. But each different enemy has a different attacking and weakness pattern. So you gotta go through them methodically, which is hard when they are all coming you at the same time. But I've managed to go through most of the game.

Until now, where I will be stuck forever. For starters my game begins with very low health  (two hits and I'm done for). There is no way to go back and find some energy, only forward to certain doom. You jump on a stupid hanging platfrom where the GD hard Colossal Ruin spawns.
Colossal Ruin

Now on it's own, that damn creature is tough as hell. You can only shoot the heads in it's body from a distance with the Pepper Grinder. Of course, they're all around it's body and retract and come out randomly. You can also imagine that the thing doesn't stand in one spot. It almost constantly tries to come at you, grad you and swallow you. Add the added pleasure of it's ranged exploding attacks that home in on you. Tough all on it's own.

But having just that would be way too nice. It's accompanied by the Slithering Ruin, a slug-like crawly that is slow, but relentlessly comes right for you.
Slithering Ruin

The are weak and easy to kill. But, they come in large numbers AND continually respawn new ones. Of course, giving a few second respite would be ridiculous and easy. So they respawn INSTANTLY when one is killed.  So you gotta maneuver around a constant mass of them or slash at them constantly. BUT you need to use the ranged shots to get to the Colossal Ruin which also constantly comes at you. So what happens is the weapon automaticly focuses at the nearest enemy, which means it's one of these buggers. And switching targets is useless, since there's loads of those things. So you can never get a shot at the big creepy, it keeps bombarding you and you die. BANG BANG.

And that's how Alice's story ends.
She fails.

The end! It was fun until then.


YAGRS said...

I had very high hopes for this game and will still likely purchase it at some point, even though it does not appear to be a great game. Most of the reviews I've read have been relatively positive (though they certainly point out the game is flawed). Perhaps they expended all their not-so-kind words on Duke Nukem.

rowen26 said...

It's a fine game. I was enjoying myself fine until I got painted in a corner with no way out.

You can't restart chapters, so I would have to start from the beginning. And that's not happening.

Blake said...

Don't quit Ian - You can do it!

Mel Kontent said...

came here to see how you beat this spot.. i too am forever stuck.

Blake said...

Unfortunately, Rowen didn't beat it. He started over the level and replayed up to that point again, but this time with full life.

Sorry, perhaps rowan could be more of help when he post next time.

Rachel said...

Hi, I am having the same exact problem with the Colossal as in this post. Since I'm a huge fan of the first game and I've been waiting for so long for the sequel, I'm really bummed out that I'm stuck so close to the end. I read that you had to start over the level. How do you do that? I'm playing the PS3 version, and I know there is a chapter selection on the main screen, but it only gives me the chapters I've already completed. Am I going to have to play through the entire chapter with the cards/red queen (by the way, good to know someone else out there hates how they put the Red Queen and Queen of Hearts in a blender and used the results as a villain) again?? Because... that sucks. That really sucks.

Need help. :\ By the way, this review is pretty much 100% exact to how my feelings toward the game are.

rowen26 said...

Hi Rachel.

I had to restart from the previous chapter, because as you said, you can only redo chapters that you have completed, which is a pain in the butt. So, I started at the last section of the previous chapter and went on from there.

The "good" thing about it is that you keep your weapons and your teeth. I would say it takes about 2-3 hours to get back to the point where I was stuck.

By this time, you should upgrade the Teapot to it's final stage. At this point, I had all the weapons at max.
The key to beating the Colossal Ruin is the teapot. Just keep blasting it at a distance and it will break it's protective masks with it's blasts. A few well placed shots and it will go into fire-breathing mode which you just have to evade and then knock it silly with the Hobby Horse and Vorpal blade. Do that a couple of times and it will be done.

Just ignore the Slithering Ruins.

After that, it takes a while for the game to get to a savepoint, so don't stop right after that battle.

The end of the level is very near.

I hope it helps!

Liz said...

I am also stuck at this very same spot with little health, I'm so bummed I have to go back a chapter to get more health. What I don't understand is why in previous levels with the slug thing if you killed them some or all had health or roses and here they do not. That would've really helped in this situation instead of having to go back a whole chapter.